Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 1491–1504 | Cite as

A Case Study of Teaching Social Responsibility to Doctoral Students in the Climate Sciences

  • Tom Børsen
  • Avan N. Antia
  • Mirjam Sophia Glessmer
Original Paper


The need to make young scientists aware of their social responsibilities is widely acknowledged, although the question of how to actually do it has so far gained limited attention. A 2-day workshop entitled “Prepared for social responsibility?” attended by doctoral students from multiple disciplines in climate science, was targeted at the perceived needs of the participants and employed a format that took them through three stages of ethics education: sensitization, information and empowerment. The workshop aimed at preparing doctoral students to manage ethical dilemmas that emerge when climate science meets the public sphere (e.g., to identify and balance legitimate perspectives on particular types of geo-engineering), and is an example of how to include social responsibility in doctoral education. The paper describes the workshop from the three different perspectives of the authors: the course teacher, the head of the graduate school, and a graduate student. The elements that contributed to the success of the workshop, and thus make it an example to follow, are (1) the involvement of participating students, (2) the introduction of external expertise and role models in climate science, and (3) a workshop design that focused on ethical analyses of examples from the climate sciences.


Social responsibility Ethics teaching Science education Ph.D. workshop Climate science Science policy interface Narrative approach Teaching case study 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom Børsen
    • 1
  • Avan N. Antia
    • 2
  • Mirjam Sophia Glessmer
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Learning and PhilosophyAalborg UniversityCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Integrated School of Ocean Sciences, Cluster of Excellence ‘‘The Future Ocean’’University of KielKielGermany
  3. 3.Center for Teaching and LearningHamburg University of Technology – TUHHHamburgGermany

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